Terry Butcher has claimed victory against St Johnstone tomorrow could bring Hibs three of the biggest points they’ve had all season as the Easter Road club bid to keep their faint top-six dream alive.
The Capital club travel to Perth knowing nothing less than a win will do, with Saints currently in sixth place, four points ahead and with a game in hand.
But Butcher believes the stark reality of the situation they are in will help his players pull off a repeat of the win they enjoyed at McDiarmid Park earlier in the season and turn up the heat on their rivals.
While he accepts the stakes were not as high back in September as they will be tomorrow, the Hibs boss said: “We are running out of games and running out of time, I think everyone is aware of that. It’s about giving everything to the cause, of being a united team, a strong team that’s going to get the three points.
“The lads have already won up there this season so they know what it takes. We know if St Johnstone win the game we are dead and buried as far as the top six is concerned but we are looking to what we can do to apply pressure on them with us getting the three points.”
Butcher vented his frustration after watching his side go down 3-1 to Partick Thistle last weekend by threatening to pack tomorrow’s team with youngsters but while he insisted there will be changes in his starting line-up, he’s likely to resist that temptation given the magnitude of the match.
He said: “There will definitely be changes but we will wait and see how many.
“It’s pretty clear as to what we have to do and I think you have to look at more experienced heads. Sometimes you say things after a game in an effort to stimulate a reaction from players. It’s about picking the right blend for me.
“Whether that’s young or old, whether a different shape or different personnel remains to be seen but I expect to get a good reaction and I am confident I will get one.
“The finality of what defeat means should push us to say ‘we do not want that to happen’. I think once you come down to it, this is what is the result of a defeat, a draw or a win then you say ‘right, let’s get on with it’. Three points now could be three of the bigest points we have had this season.”
Butcher admitted a certain degree of frustration that Hibs should find themselves needing not only a win tomorrow but victories against Hearts and Aberdeen in their final two matches before the split to have any hope of making the top six for the first time in four seasons, the Easter Road outfit’s form around the turn of the year suggesting they were heading in that direction.
He said: “We were on a good run, we were looking good and we were thinking ‘let’s keep that momentum going’, but we drew against Dundee United, lost to Aberdeen and we haven’t got going since. It’s been inconsistent, there’s been ups and downs – mainly downs rather than ups. And once you get on one of these runs the confidence actor goes and it’s difficult to get that consistency back.
“It’s about finding the right blend, the right combinations, finding the right team that’s going to go out there week in, week out. But we know exactly what we have do do. We’ve got three great games to play.”